7 tips for working while sick

4:44 PM

In a perfect world, no one would have to work while sick. We would just take a rest and return to work when we feel better.

But in reality, most of us have to work at least a little bit while we are sick. There is a lot of financial pressure to work.

These are alarming signs, and I think it shows we should do more to encourage employers to provide adequate sick time.

But even if we do that, there are times it will be necessary to work while under the weather. As I could not find much scientific research on the topic (most articles say rest is best), I thought I’d share some of my strategies for working while sick. Basic as they are, the tips work for me and could work for you.

So here are the 7 tips for working while sick:

7 tips for working while sick

1. Get as much rest as you can
This article is about working through a sickness, but it’s important to recognize your limits.

Ultimately you have to think about the big picture. If you push yourself too hard while you are sick, you could make things even worse for yourself later.

There actually was a study done about this in Denmark that involved over 12,000 workers, as reported in Consumer Reports.

The long and short of the study was this: “Going to work ill repeatedly is associated with long-term sickness absence at a later date…Participants who had gone to work ill more than six times in the year prior to baseline had a 74% higher risk of becoming sick-listed for more than 2 months.”

So don’t push yourself too hard now, or you might end up risking a much more serious sickness later.

2. Reschedule meetings and phone calls
I like to look and sound my best when I am conducting business. Plus, I always hate the annoying person who coughs throughout meetings–I mean seriously, if you’re that sick, it’s time to rest.

So to the extent possible, I try to reschedule long phone calls and meetings.

It helps me face and give rest to my throat. I do whatever I can by email and hold off until I’m feeling better.

3. Work in small shifts
When you’re sick, you might not be able to get through an 8 or 10 hour day. You may find yourself tired more frequently. What I tend to do is take the rest when I’m tired, and work in the few hours that I feel good enough to be productive.

This is a tip I use anyway for writing–there’s no point fighting writer’s block, after all.

4. Tackle mindless tasks
When my head is clouded from being sick, there’s no way I can solve hard math problems or work on financial models. Even if I tried, chances are I’d make so many errors that I’d dip into the realm of negative productivity.

But that doesn’t mean I stop working entirely. There are so many mindless things–filing papers, catching up on emails, reading–that can fill this time.

So even if being sick means you can’t do the hardest part of your job, chances are you’ll be able to do some part of your job.

5. Go for home remedies: soup, tea, healthy foods
This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning home remedies. Everyone has their own way of coping with feeling down. I go for the classics of drinking plenty of liquids, including soup and tea.

My favorite is to make a simple vegetable broth soup and add a few bits of frozen broccoli and soba noodles.

The Mayo Clinic suggests a few other home remedies, like saltwater gargles, nasal drops, and zinc.

6. Ask for help / delegate
I am someone that loves to be self-reliant and I don’t like to outsource menial tasks.

But even I know when it’s time to ask for help. When I am sick, I am much less shy about asking for co-workers/friends/family to help out with things like picking up lunch, grabbing a rental movie, or covering at work.

People are more than happy to help out, and I am happy to return the favor when they get sick.

7. Be considerate of co-workers
If you have something like the flu, you are probably better off just staying at home. Your co-workers will thank you.

But if you absolutely must be at work, then follow the basic etiquette to limit your influence. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, throw the tissue in the trash after using it, and wash your hands frequently. And do not share your food or drink!

Anyway, these are a few of the tips I use to power my way through a cold or flu. I’m curious to know your tips. What are your tips for working while sick?

first appeared on mindyourdecisions.com

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